About Urban Archaeology
Archaeology is undoubtedly most famous for its exploration and discovery of “wonderful things” from the deep past in “exotic” places: Tutankhamun’s tomb! Lost Maya cities! Archaeologists are also keen sift through and ask questions of ancient garbage: What do these tools at Stonehenge suggest about Neolithic and Bronze Age social networks? These discoveries and questions are important for understanding where we came from. However, more and more archaeologists are turning their attention, their theory, and their methods to the recent past and contemporary worlds. This course explores a body of work that advances these efforts in American urban places and considers debates that make the more recent American urban world its object. The course then asks students to assess and evaluate various aspects of American urban life through exposure to a broad range of archaeological case studies.
About Urban Archaeology
This course focuses on the archaeology of the Greek and Roman city. It investigates the relationship between urban architecture and the political, social, and economic role of cities in the Greek and Roman world. Analyzes a range of archaeological and literary evidence relevant to the use of space in Greek and Roman cities (e.g. Athens, Paestum, Rome, Pompeii) and a range of theoretical frameworks for the study of ancient urbanism.
Examines the dynamic interrelations among physical and behavioral traits of humans, environment, and culture to provide an integrated framework for studying human biological evolution and modern diversity. Topics include issues in morphological evolution and adaptation; fossil and cultural evidence for human evolution from earliest times through the Pleistocene; evolution of tool use and social behavior; modern human variation and concepts of race. Includes study of stone artifacts and fossil specimens.
Archaeology reconstructs ancient human activities and their environmental contexts. Drawing on case studies in contrasting environmental settings from the Near East and Mesoamerica, considers these activities and the forces that shaped them. In laboratory sessions students encounter various classes of archaeological data and analyze archaeological artifacts made from materials such as stone, bone, ceramics, glass, and metal. These analyses help reconstruct the past. This class introduces the multidisciplinary nature of archaeology, both in theory and practice. Lectures provide a comparative examination of the origins of agriculture and the rise of early civilizations in the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica. The laboratory sessions provide practical experience in aspects of archaeological field methods and analytical techniques including the examination of stone, ceramic, and metal artifacts and bone materials. Lab sessions have occasional problem sets which are completed outside of class.
Examines the ways in which people in ancient and contemporary societies have selected, evaluated, and used materials of nature, transforming them to objects of material culture. Some examples: glass in ancient Egypt and Rome; powerful metals in the Inka empire; rubber processing in ancient Mexico. Explores ideological and aesthetic criteria often influential in materials development. Laboratory/workshop sessions provide hands-on experience with materials discussed in class. Subject complements 3.091. Enrollment may be limited.
Examines the intellectual foundations of the new discipline of deep sea archaeology, a convergence of oceanography, archaeology, and engineering. How best are robots and submarines employed for archaeological work? How do new technologies change operations plans, research designs, and archaeological questions? Covers oceanography, history and technology of underwater vehicles, search strategies, technology development, archaeological technique, sociology of scientific knowledge. Case studies of deep-sea projects include the wrecks of the Titanic and Monitor, Roman trading vessels in the Mediterranean, and deep research in the Black Sea.
Entire textbook by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn is available for download here, but as this will take a long time to load, you may prefer to go chapter by chapter. Website in which this textbook resides was used for Fall 2021.